Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Two fuzzy dogs

"Dad. Where are we going?"
"We have to take this van back."
"I thought you said we were renting it."
"Nope. It's Sara Hotchkiss' van."
"We're going to her house?"
"Nope. To her work."
"Why can't we go to her house?"
"Because my motorcycle is at her work . . . hold on, just let me tell you what happened."

I had a dentist appointment that day. Isobel went to school. Bettie went to work. Eva went to a friend's house, for an hour. So I rode my little Trail 110 to the dentist. Well, most of the way to the dentist. I pushed it the last couple of blocks, after it got a flat tire. I didn't have a repair kit with me or anything, so after the dentist appointment, I walked about a mile to a tire shop, which happens to be owned by a lady in our ward.

I wanted some Fix-A-Flat, but they didn't have any. Sara suggested I try a nearby gas station, and if they didn't have any, she could order it from her parts supplier. They didn't have any, so I walked back (a mile) and pushed my bike (a mile, uphill both ways, by the way) back to the tire shop. I thought I might as well just get the tire fixed as wait for Fix-A-Flat and hope just hope it would work.

When I got there, Sara was gone for a minute, the other guy I'd talked to was on the phone and the Service Manager said, "We don't work on motorcycles." So it was back to the Fix-A-Flat. I waited for the other guy and he ordered it. 20 minutes, he said. I'd now been gone an hour longer than I planned, so I called and warned the babysitter, who said I had three hours or so before she needed to pick her kids up from school. No problem.

After an hour of National Geographic reading, Sara apologized and said the parts guy was on the way. After another hour, she was getting annoyed with the parts guy, who she had just heard still had seven stops to make. Finally, it got there. So we put it in, filled the tire up with air and ... 30 seconds later it was flat as ever.

That's when she offered to let me borrow her van. I drove home, picked up Eva and then Isobel, and then waited for Bettie to get home from her faraway visits so we'd have a ride back when we dropped off the van. In the meantime, Sara talked the Service Manager into letting somebody try to patch the tire. And they got it done.

So on the way over to pick up my bike, Isobel started peppering me with questions, and I finally just told her the whole story, and it ended like this:

"Now I'm going to drop the van back off at Sara's tire shop. We're going to walk over to your mom's work. She's going to drive you guys home. And I'm going to ride my bike home."

And after all that, Isobel said, "Dad, since you mentioned the Hotchkiss family ... Can we go over to their house? They have a trampoline, and two fuzzy dogs."

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Canyonlands Scary Fun

Since we got home from a five-day trip to the Needles area of Canyonlands National Park, Isobel has been telling everyone, "I'm not supposed to say the c-word, the a-word, the d-word or the k-word."

C stands for "chICKeeeen" which she said randomly dozens of times a day, even after it was banned on Day One, a 7-hour car ride from Santa Fe to Canyonlands.

A is for "ain't." As in, "Ain't ain't a word and you ain't supposed to say it. Say ain't five times and you ain't going to heaven." I said that to her, but it didn't help. (She's pretty quick; it took me a few times hearing that phrase before I realized there were five ain'ts in it. Not her. One time.)

D and K are for "die" and "kill." As in, "Ohno, we're gonna die" as I'm gripping the steering wheel and wondering if I'm going to get the car up this next series of small rock steps (small rock steps are all it can handle); and "That cliff's gonna kill us!" as we bounce up a rocky hill on a road a couple of feet wider than the car. As a poor-to-mediocre 4WD driver, I can tell you, that helps.


Well I ain't chicken. Except sometimes when I think my little girls might die or get killed, and that if they do it'll be entirely my fault.

On day two, we bounced up a, um, better dirt road to the boundary of the national park, got out and started looking for a way to walk to the top of one of the endless and nearly impenetrable plateaus just inside the border of the park. There's a string of canyons there, all bounded by great slabs of redrock that rise 200 vertical feet in about 30 horizontal feet. We followed dry streambeds and slickrock to the base, then followed the only sequence of cracks, basins and inclines we could find that led all the way to the top without stopping us at a 10- or 30-foot wall.

At the top it was much roomier. There was plenty of room, for instance, for Eva to run. This is the little girl who, the day before, just a few minutes after we got out of the car, cried, "I tripped aGAIN! That's three times. Dad, do you have a Band-aid?" Now, the top was pretty wide in spots. In other spots there wasn't a whole lot of room between our path and a hundred-foot drop-crunch-slide-drop.

So I gave them a variation on the speech that they always get: "OK. Girls. Listen. This is a fun place. But it's also kind of a scary place. You have to be careful up here. And you have to listen to me. If I stay stop, you stop. OK?"
And Isobel said, "Yeah, it's a national park. And the park part means fun. Because parks are fun."
Then Eva, watching carefully to see if she was right, added, "And national means . . . scary . . . or something."

P.S. I can't begin to describe how beautiful the arches and caverns and pits and small domes and twisting pour-offs and empty pools and endless cliffs-and-canyons were in the Davis Canyon area. So I'll let Devin, who's been around a bit, tell you. After wandering around on the top of that slab and meditating on the subject for a few hours, he stopped and said, "I'm trying to think if I've been anywhere cooler than this."

There you go. Davis Canyon in scary fun Canyonlands National Park.

Saturday, February 21, 2009


Isobel: "I can only step on rocks."
Eva: "Except sometimes you have to not step on rocks."
Isobel: "Yeah. But right now, if I was a sandstepper, I'd be stepping on the sand."
Eva: "But you're a rockstepper."

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Eva at Tent Rocks again

Eva and I took Vince and Ambier to Tent Rocks yesterday before they left. Here are a few of my favorite things Eva did and said there.

We got there a little later than normal, so we had less time for the hike. But Eva hiked faster than I've ever seen her. At one point, she said, "We're making it on time, that's good. ... I must have some magic in me."
"To make you go so fast?"
"No, to make us ALL go so fast."

There's a huge tree there that started growing a very long time ago at the bottom of a sandy slot canyon. The canyon has eroded a lot since then. You can tell because the tree's trunk starts about 8 feet off the ground and there's a cage of roots between there and the canyon's current floor. We always stop there and the kids climb around on it. Today was no exception, even in a bit of a hurry. Eva climbed up to the trunk and posed for some pictures with Vince and Ambier, then started to climb down. Vince offered to jump her off of there, but she declined. "I made it up, I can make it down," she said. Then as she inched her way down the root, it turned into a sort of a mantra. "I made it up, I can make it down. I made it up, I can make it down. I made it up, I can make it down. ... Right, Dad?"

"Yeah. It's a little bit harder coming down than going up, but you're doing well. You almost made it."

"I almost made it? Good, 'cause I'm getting a little bit scared."

A similar comment: Every time we'd get to a narrow, steep or rocky spot, she'd look up and see Vince and Ambier and say, "They made it up. We can make it up." And she was always right.

It did get pretty slick on the steep ascent out of the canyon. There was a 45-year-old guy with huge Vibram-soled boots on just crawling up with a couple of his friends. Just inching their way up, talking about how certain of their friends wouldn't even be able to make it and feeling grateful that it was a loop so they didn't have to return this way (not a loop, sorry kids). We followed them a while and I really wanted to say, Excuse me, can you please let my 4-year-old and her tennis shoes by? You're kind of slow.